Sunday, January 31, 2010

27,400 Cases of Identity Theft Daily - Will You Be Next?

Did you know that within the United States alone, there are 10,000,000 victims of identity theft every year. That is a stunning 27,400 cases every day or 1,140 victims every hour. What is even more disturbing is that by all indications, this problem will get worse before it starts to get better.

Identity theft happens when your personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud. This is a very serious offence that can ruin your good name and credit, and cost you lots of time and money.

Have you put anything in place to protect yourself from this problem? Identity thieves can only take advantage of you if they get valuable information from you such as your social security number. Here are some pointers on how to protect yourself from this crime, detect it, and report it.

One of the first things you can do to protect yourself from this menace is not to keep your social security card or any form of identification that has your SSN on it, on your person. Memorize your SSN and keep your Social Security Card in a secure safe at home or at a bank. Do not divolge your SSN to anyone without first knowing exactly what they are going to do with it and how they are going to store and protect it.

Never give out personal information on the phone or internet unless you are absolutely sure you know who you are dealing with, and that the information being requested is necessary.

Obtain your FREE credit report annually from the three national consumer reporting agencies, and carefully review them. Review your financial accounts regularly, looking particularly for charges you did not make.

Be very careful with the disposal of your trash. You should invest in a small shredder, so that you can shred any document you wish to dispose of, especially those that may have sensitive information on them such as credit card statements or health insurance forms.

If you should ever become a victim of identity theft, you must act very quickly and do the following:

Contact your credit card company and have your credit card(s) cancelled.
Contact at least one of the three free national consumer reporting companies, and have them put a fraud alert on your file.
Contact each creditor where your credit has been misused, and inform them about the fraud. Ensure that you follow this up in writing.
Contact your local police department and report the fraud, and get a copy of the police report. This will be a very valuable document to prove that you are a victim of identity theft and that you have reported the matter to the police. This should therefore protect you from debt collectors.

So please take care of your personal information. Be alert and immediately report it should you become a victim of this crime.

This article was published using Article Submitter

Saturday, January 30, 2010

15 Startling Reasons Why Your 401(k) May Be Your Riskiest Investment

Financial institutions have a distinct genius for marketing. They are able to get millions of Americans to hand over their money with very little thought taken, very little knowledge of the so-called investments offered, and even less control of their investments.

When the evidence is plainly presented, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that putting money into 401(k)s and similar qualified plans is not investing at all--it is one of the riskiest gambles for most individuals. Read the following reasons why I say this, and ask yourself if it's time to reconsider your 401(k).

1. Limited Opportunity For Cash Flow

Qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, do not provide immediate cash flow, which means that you cannot benefit from them through velocity and utilization. The theory is that letting the money sit allows it to compound, but for most people this really means that it stagnates. Most people will not choose to utilize these funds even when a particularly compelling opportunity arises that will make them far more than the 401(k) would, even accounting for the penalties. This means that numerous legitimate opportunities are passed by as people stay "in it for the long haul."

2. Lack of Liquidity

The money is tied up with penalties attached for early withdrawal. Although there are a few technicalities that allow penalty-free withdrawals, the restrictions are so numerous that very few know how to get around them.

3. Market Dependency

The performance of the funds is dependent upon market factors that most individuals do not have the knowledge nor the ability to understand or mitigate. This means that your retirement plans are based on unknowable projections, making for a dangerous and uncertain planning environment. Uncertainty causes fear, and fear leads to mistakes, worry, scarcity, and ultimately lost hopes and dreams. Do you want to live your ideal life only if the market cooperates?

4. The Match Myth

"Take the match--it's a guaranteed 100 a year, based on an average return of 8 annually, but that means that some years will be lower, some will be higher. If in one year your fund is down 10%, you're tapping into your principal to take your interest withdrawal. At that point, you have only two choices: 1) start withdrawing principal, or 2) leave the money alone until your funds are up again.

14. No Holistic Plan

I've witnessed on many occasions people whose finances are in shambles and although they have much more pressing needs, they diligently contribute to their 401(k). They've been convinced to do so, of course, because of the match, tax deferral, etc. It's like a person trying to take care of a scraped knee when their wrist is slit. What they really need is a macroeconomic approach to their finances that will help them identify, prioritize, and manage all pieces of their financial puzzle, with all pieces coordinated and working together.

15. Neglect of Stewardship

Ultimately, the most destructive aspect of 401(k)s is that they cause many individuals to abdicate their responsibility, abandon self-reliance, and neglect their stewardship over their own prosperity. People think that if they just throw enough money at the "experts" that somehow, some way, and without their direct involvement they will end up thirty years later with a lot of money. And when things don't turn out that way they think they can blame others--despite the fact that they only have themselves to blame.


Qualified plans are promoted on such a wide scale because those promoting it have vested interests--and their interests don't necessarily coincide with yours.

If you currently contribute to a 401(k), stop and think about it for a minute. What is it really doing for you, now and in the future? The desire to save money for retirement is wise and prudent, but after reading the above, do you think it's possible to find other investment philosophies, products, and strategies that would meet your financial objectives much more quickly and safely than a qualified plan? Are you really comfortable exposing yourself to this much risk? How can you mitigate your risk, increase your returns, and create safe and sustainable investments? How can you create more control and better exit strategies, reduce your tax burden, and increase your cash flow?

Your financial future depends on your answers to these questions.

Friday, January 29, 2010

15 Great Day Trading Tips

Reports of people making huge gains in stock markets have been carried in newspapers around the world. This has attracted many first time investors to the stock market. Day trading is one of the systems gaining in popularity with investors. But day trading is fraught with risks. Though you can make huge gains in day trading, you are also likely to lose huge money. However, if you want to do day trading here are some tips to succeed:

Who is day trader?

A person who actively participates in stock market and buys and sells many times a day to make quick profits is called a day trader.

What are the tips to succeed in day trading?

1. Study the basics of the system like the working of the market, which way the stocks will move, the long and short calls, and the time to buy and sell. You should also learn to take care of the profits while reducing the losses.

2. Since mastering day trading is a time consuming process, use the trading platform available on the trading websites before you actually start.

3. Do not let the thought of making losses scare you. Use methods like stop orders to reduce your losses.

4. If you suffer some loss, do not worry, as it is a part of the process.

5. Once you have earned your expected profit, stop trading. Do not hunger after more money and throw away your profit.

6. If the market does not meet your expectations on any particular day, do not trade.

7. As your experience in day trading increases, you gain the ability to foresee the direction in which the stock price moves. But do not go for the topmost or the lowermost stocks.

8. If you find it difficult to decide in which way the market is going, do not trade but just wait.

9. Maintain a record of the results of the day trading. It allows you to learn the things which are effective, as well as ineffective.

10. Learn the buying and selling tactics of successful day traders. They usually sell when there is good news and buy when there is bad news.

11. Do not get emotionally involved in trading but stay aloof and professional.

12. Rely on your instincts as depending excessively on the analysis means skipping some good trading chances.

13. Learn and use top strategies to trade.

14. Concentrate only on select stocks. Focusing your attention on multiple stocks will make it difficult for you to track the movement of each stock.

15. Learn new trading strategies daily and use them to your benefit.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 Tips To Make Sure Your Financial Budget Will Succeed

You’ve analyzed your past expenses, put them into spreadsheets, loaded Quicken with all of your data and come up with a budget. Now what? The tough part! You actually have to stick to your budget and put your plans into action. This is easier said than done. In many cases you will have forgotten about your budget and your financial goals 6 months or a year down the road. How do you keep this from happening to you?

Here’s how. Make sure you follow some of these tips below so this doesn’t happen to you.

1. Create a budget with realistic targets – Let’s say one of your budget goals is to not eat out for lunch or dinner on a regular basis. If you are honest with yourself you may find this to be an unrealistic goal. Sometimes it’s a nice break to eat out and have a relaxing rewarding evening. In other words, don’t set the bar too high. Drastic and unrealistic goals are one of the surefire ways your budget will not succeed.

2. Budget for expenses that don’t occur on a routine basis – Make sure you give consideration to expenses that occur once a year, such as holiday presents, birthdays, vacations, weddings, car maintenance costs, etc. These expenses don’t occur every month and they will bust your budget plans wide open. Make a list of these events on a calendar and put a dollar figure to them. Place them in the month they are expected to occur so you can plan in advance how you will pay for them. The regular routine expenses are not the reason your budget will fail. It is these “gotchas” that will wreck havoc on your budget if you don’t plan for them.

3. Put your budget in writing – Take the time to write down your budget plans. Making a mental note of your budget goals is a recipe for failure. Don’t assume that your financial future will take care of itself by making a simple mental note to yourself. If you have your budget goals detailed in writing you can review and remind yourself weekly and monthly of your financial goals.

4. If you have a bad month or week, don’t give up! – Let’s say you have been reaching your budget goals for three months. In the fourth month, for whatever reason, you didn’t reach your budget goals. Maybe you even stopped trying to stick to your budget! If this happens, don’t just throw your hands up in the air and admit to failure. Everyone falls off the wagon sometimes. Your budget is a journey. There will be bumps in the road, so the key is to realize that everyone makes mistakes. This relates to a story I like about a great old time golfer named Walter Hagen. Before each round of golf, he told himself that he would have 4 or 5 bad shots. During the golf round, if he hit his ball into a bunker, he would tell himself, “There is one of my bad shots that I was expecting”, hit the ball out of the bunker and move on. It didn’t phase him one bit because he had knew there would be some bad shots in his round.

5. Adjust your budget over time – This one is a biggie! It can take months or even years to fine tune a personal budget. When you initially made your budget plans, you probably had to guess at some of your figures. They might not have been in touch with the realities of every day life. For example, you may have underestimated your monthly grocery or utility bills. If this happens, analyze all of the underlying money that was spend in this category to see if your initial estimate was unrealistic. If it was, try to come up with a more accurate number and then to stick to that new figure. It is this type of adjustment that is one of the keys to making sure you can stick to your budget.

6. Review your budget every month – This is where you will make any adjustments that are needed. Set aside the first day of each new month to review your income and expenditures and match them to your budget goals. By actively reviewing your finances and comparing it to your budget, you can adjust your spending habits. This gives you a chance to analyze areas that exceeded your budget expectations and make the adjustments in your spending habits or your budget. The goal here is to not forget about your budget. One tip that has worked for me is to put a printout of my basic budget goals on the refrigerator. That way every day, several times a day, I would notice my budget goals sheet. I may not read it every time, but I notice it and it reminds me that I need to stick to my budget. That is why tip number 3 is so important.

7. Set specific short-term goals – Let’s say one of your budget goals is to have all of your credit card bills paid off in two years. If your credit card balances total $20,000 that would be $10,000 a year. Divide that number further into quarterly reductions in your credit card bills, in this case $2,500 every 3 months. Now, this is a more tangible budget goal to shoot for isn’t it? I find that when I divide intermediate and long term goals into short-term tangible stepping stones, I am able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment and am more likely to succeed. This brings us to number eight…

8. Reward yourself – That’s right! Treat yourself when you reach your some of your short-term goals. Since your financial budget is really a journey, take some time to smell the roses on your way. Sticking to your budget should not be a restrictive, unpleasant experience. Not only should you take the time to enjoy your financial accomplishments along the way, but use part of your budget for fun things that you enjoy. Just make sure your rewards don’t end up breaking your budget!

9. Pay yourself first – I’m sure that one of your budget goals is to save and invest a portion of your income. One of the keys to make sure you succeed at this is to do what the IRS does with your paycheck, take it out of your discretionary income immediately. This way, the money is saved away right off the bat. Move the money immediately into a savings or mutual fund account. Many mutual fund companies can setup automatic deductions from your paycheck. Despite your best intentions to save, the hectic, daily demands of life can reduce the amount you are able to save.

10. Attitude is everything – When most people think of a budget, they picture restrictions and pain. Almost like a diet. You know what happens with most diets? They don’t seem work for long! First, if your budget is too strict, too restrictive on your spending, it won’t work either. However, you will need to limit your spending in some areas and this will take some adjustment in your attitude. I found that when I am feeling limited and sorry for myself when I can’t purchase something that I want, I remember my financial goals I set with my budget. I think about the satisfaction I feel when I reach those goals. Over time, you find that you don’t want to disappoint yourself by breaking your spending goals on a spur of the moment purchase. Now, I actually get more pleasure knowing that I am reaching my budget goals when the thought of an impulse purchase crosses my mind.

If you follow these tips, your budget plans are more likely to be a great success. By taking some simple steps you will find that living within a budget is not as tough as you imagined. It can actually be fun and rewarding!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10 Steps To Save Your Retirement

Many of the brightest and hardest-working marketing and advertising people in the country are obsessed with getting you to spend money and, if necessary, to go into debt to do so. Absolutely all the media that reach you every day are designed to get you to spend money. In order to save money in this environment, you will need determination to withstand the constant pressures to spend now.

What is it that separates those who are successful from those who are not?

Successful individuals have a strong personal vision of what they want and why they want it. That vision gives them the strength to stick to their strategies even when doing so is uncomfortable. It gives them the determination to persist when they are discouraged. This is the same characteristic of women entrepreneurs and is the reason their new, small businesses are successful.

The 401k Plan

Today, the 401(k) plan has become the main investment vehicle for working women to save for retirement. But many don’t take full advantage of their plan, and this could leave them with a lot less at retirement. Here are some steps we believe you can take to improve and eliminate any retirement worries about whether or not your retirement will be pleasurable or public charity; or whether you will have all the free time to spend with your family or friends.

1. Increase your contributions to the maximum that you can manage. Many women contribute just enough to take advantage of their employer’s matching contributions, and then they stop. By adding more to your account, beyond the matching contributions, you’ll end up with more in retirement.

2. Invest at the start of each year instead of taking a little bit out of each paycheck. Nothing in the law says you have to invest in a 401(k) plan a little at a time, from each paycheck. By investing early, you’ll put your money to work sooner for your benefit.

3. A few years ago it was reported that more than 30 percent of the money in 401(k) plans was invested in money-market funds or similar accounts. For investors nearing retirement, that may be appropriate. But most workers in their 40’s and 50’s need growth in their retirement investments. Put more of your investment fund in equities and less in money-market funds.

4. Research indicates that over long periods of time, small-company stocks outperform large-company stocks. Since 1926, In the equity part of your portfolio, shift some of your money into funds that invest in small companies. Don’t put your entire equity portfolio in small-company stocks. But consider investing at least 25 percent of your U.S. equity investments in that fund.

5. Numerous studies have shown that value stocks outperform growth stocks. According to data going back to 1964, large U.S. value companies had a compound rate of return of 15.1 percent vs. only 11.4 percent for large U.S. growth companies. Among small U.S. companies, the difference was even more striking: a compound return of 17.4 percent for the value stocks vs. 12.1 percent for the growth stocks. Don’t put your entire equity portfolio into value stocks. But if there’s a value fund available to you, consider investing at least 25 percent of your U.S. equity investments in that fund.

6.Rebalance your portfolio once a year. Your asset allocation plan calls for a certain percentage to be invested in each of several kinds of assets. Rebalancing restores your asset balance and allows for the possibility that last year’s losers may be this year’s gainers. Diluting your diversification actually increases risk in your portfolio over time, which is a result that’s just the opposite of what most investors want.

7.Without compromising proper asset allocation– use the funds in your plan that have the lowest operating expenses. Choose funds with low turnover in their portfolios.

8. Don’t borrow or make early withdrawals from your 401(k) unless that is the only way to respond to a life-threatening emergency. Furthermore, if you take an early withdrawal before you are 59.5 years old, your withdrawals will be subject to a 10 percent tax penalty (in addition to regular taxes) unless you are disabled. Just don’t do it.

9. If you leave your job, you’ll get a chance to roll over your 401(k) into an IRA. Take that chance. In an IRA, you have the same tax deferral as a 401(k), and you’ll have the flexibility to invest in virtually everything you can get in a 401(k), plus much more.

10. Here’s the most important thing you can do to maximize your 401(k): Keep your contributions automatically payroll deducted, and make them no matter what. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Half of the households in the United States have net worth of $25,000 or less. In a typical year, about two-thirds of U.S. households do not save money.

Remember, to be successful, first, imagine your early retirement; the Caribbean condo, the yacht, the new Lexus. Luxury and pleasure as far as your eyes can see. Create a strong vision, and then don’t let go. The power of a clear, strong vision applies to more than just your retirement savings. Let your vision shape your life, instead of the other way around, and all of the time in the world can be yours. You won’t be spending your Golden Years working at the Golden Arches.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Keys That Every Home Based Business Owner Should Implement For Success

1) Attitude--

One very important factor in running a business is your attitude towards it. You should treat your business like a business.

This is very important whether you work your business full-time, or part-time. A very close friend of mine, who is also a colleague, is a mother of 4 who works her home business around her family. In this case, she has put her family first, and at the same time, still been able to develop her business.She works part-time, but she has a full-time attitude. To put it another way, if you have a lacking attitude, you'll have a lacking income. However, if you have a business attitude, you'll have a business income.

Keeping your attitude in mind while running your business is one of the first steps to ensuring your success.

Being successful working part-time on your business, or working full-time, is more than achievable. However in saying that, it is highly unlikely that working in your "spare time" will achieve you success.

2) The Environment In Which You Work--

Keeping with the attitude principles discussed above, it is necessary to remember that while you are working from home, you should make sure that you have a space to call your own; your own "business at home" office, free from distractions.

Keep the theme going with a comfortable office chair, and a well laid-out and organized desk. Stationery supplies will also be of assistance, so be sure to include the following in your "home office":

- Pens
- Highlighter
- Hole Punch
- Stapler
- Sticky Tape
- Note Book(s)
- A system which will enable you to easily and efficiently store your physical files and documents.
- Ring Binders
- Manillia Folders

Do you have a fast internet connection? If not, consider the use of a broadband internet connection. Anything you do will take a certain amount of time, and your time is a very valuable assest. Faster internet means you will have more time for other things.

3) Schedule--

Dividing up your spare time between your business, your family, or your "significant others" will require a carefully planned schedule. Just like office hours in which you would work, when you allocate time for work, make sure that you work during this time. Equally important is to make sure you have time for other commitments - time with your family, exercising, education, and leisure time are all equally important factors in your life. Its also a good idea to keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing. For example, if you are starting your home business to spend more time with your family, you don't want your work time consuming valuable family time.

With a home business, the only "boss" you have is yourself and your schedule. Lets say for instance that you are working during your allocated work time, and you have unexpected visitors, or people calling you. You have to make a choice; are you really commited to running your own business? Are you commited to business success? Your choices in these types of situations will govern whether or not you have a "business attitude", or a "hobby attitude".

However, you may need to adjust the way you make your choices. This is especially true in a family environment. In this instance, it may be necessary to discuss with your partner and/or children an agreed period of time which is classed as business time, in which you will not be interrupted. It may also help to print or write down this schedule and place it somewhere prominent so as to inform all family members of your work schedule.

4) Describing Your Business--

Make sure that when asked about your business, you are able to describe it concisely; a strong and powerful one or two sentence about your business that someone can repeat easily about describing your business to others. A company slogan or "tag line" can also be invaluable for promoting your business; take the time to create a unique and memorable tag line or slogan.

5) Knowledge Of Your Services Or Products--

You now have your product and your service in which you sell, whether or not you actually use your product or service you sell, it is a wise decision to make sure that your knowledge of your product or service is intimate and well-founded. For instance, if you sell ebooks, then ensure you know the content and the value in which it holds; if you sell software, ensure that you know how it works, "inside and out". In doing so, your reputation will develop as someone who provides quality information about a product or service, and because of this knowledge, you yourself can become a preferred supplier.

However, it may not always be practical to use certain products (as an example, a man may choose to sell wedding dresses), in which case the seller wouldn't be a product or service user, though in saying that, the seller can still have extensive knowledge of the product or services benefits and features.

6) Administration--

It is essential to implement good record keeping practices.

This can include tasks such as consulting a tax advisor who can advise you on the best and most optimal way to set up and store your financial records, as well as which records need to be kept. In addition, your advisor could also recommend record keeping systems which can help you in achieving a more efficient and simpler means of organizing this aspect of your business.

You may also be told advice on the most effective arrangments and set ups for your banking necessities. In doing so, you will most likely be advised to seek out seperate bank accounts for your business.

If you use various logins, passwords, and usernames, it would be a wise decision to keep track and store this various information.

The tools and methods in which you track these are varied; from a simple paper notebook to free and commercial software.

7) Protection For Your Computer--

Your computer houses all your important business data, and is also the lifeline of your business dealings. In saying this, it is vital that you protect your computer.

Pieces of software such as virus scanners, personal firewalls, anti-spyware and adware, and even an email scanner, should all be implemented to help with the protection of your computer.

8) Obtaining A Domain Name--

For any home-based, online business, it is more than just essential to have a domain name for your business, it is vital. There are many domain registrar companies out there. Take your pick.

9) Processing Of Your Payments--

Any online business will need to the ability to accept payments. Payment processors such as Paypal, 2Checkout, and Clickbank, all offer multiple ways to accept payment, including the ability to accept credit card payments online.

As an online business just starting out, this is the most effective, effecient, and economical way to get started in accepting online payments. As your business starts to grow and develop, it may be necessary to look into obtaining your own merchant account for transactions.

Also, it may be worth while taking into account other forms of currency online, such as eGold.

10) Email Accounts--

The more professional and trusted your online home business appears, the more likely your customers are going to do business with you. One of the most easiest and simplest ways to do this, is to use an associated email account. After obtaining your own domain, it is possible to create your very own associated email account.

Final Comments--

In finishing, I'd like to leave you with the following comments regarding the running and owning of your internet business. Conduct your business ethically, ensure that your customers receive the best service, and be proud to put your name to the products and/or services that you sell, and you will soon seen the fruits of your efforts. Taking into account this last statement, and the above 10 key points, you'll find yourself on track to developing a trusted, professional, and sustainable long term internet business.

The Untimely Demise of MFS Pacific Finance Limited

The Untimely Demise of MFS Pacific Finance Limited Amongst the numerous investment funds and financial institutions falling victim to the global credit crunch, one that surely need not and should not have succumbed was New Zealand-based MFS Pacific Finance Limited. Starting life in New Zealand in 1999 as a subsidiary of ASX-listed MFS Limited (now known as Octaviar Limited), an early venture saw the Company take over the name and management of several underperforming Waltus property funds, later followed by an offer of Debenture Stock and Unsecured Notes to the New Zealand public through a registered prospectus. From the outset the Company made clear that funds raised were primarily destined for lending in the broadly diversified Australian property market, with the same interest rates offered in either AUD or NZD reflecting a significant proportion of second or even third mortgage lending. Figures to 30 September 2007 show one third of such lending as lying behind first mortgage advances from MFS Limited's own flagship Premium Income Fund, indicating a common interest between mortgagees. Cash raised in NZD but lent as AUD was hedged back to the New Zealand currency. Over the next few years, MFS Pacific worked diligently to establish itself within the mainstream New Zealand finance company sector with restructuring in early 2007 placing MFS Pacific Finance under NZX listed MFS New Zealand Limited (38 of total assets as a fee in exchange, the Put Option became commercially as well as legally based. This formal agreement effectively gave MFS Pacific Finance investors legal recourse to the full financial resources of MFS Limited, in support of both Secured Debenture Stock and Unsecured Notes. By mid 2007 the level of parent MFS Limited shareholder funds had reached a massive A$1.5 billion. No wonder the relatively generous fixed interest rates on offer of 9.25 unsecured, attracted widespread support. MFS Pacific Finance became a significant partner and supporter of financial events around New Zealand, being on hand at major seminars and conferences. Company briefings were open and frank, personnel appeared well informed and competent. The company seemed to take constructive criticisms on board - such as early disposal of the maligned Waltus name. Details of security type, missing from early communications, were added to later prospectuses. Early attempts to evaluate the Company's liquidity were originally answered by production of a complicated combined line and bar chart purporting to show an excess of assets over liabilities spread over time but, which to this observer at least, seemed to indicate the opposite. However, later financial statements displayed the assets and liabilities maturity profile in the standard tabular format common in New Zealand registered prospectuses with an overall receivables excess over liabilities of about 2.6 from October 2007 to A$4 in early January 2008 but this was generally in line with the broad ASX losses over the same interval, so little justification for the ensuing rout can be found here. Markets don't just suddenly react savagely to news that has already been widely known for months. Further confusion seems to have been generated by suitor City Pacific first showing interest in merging with or acquiring certain financial assets from MFS Limited, then withdrawing, then showing renewed interest, only to withdraw again. City Pacific appears to have problems of its own. Also, and although flagged in general terms earlier, a Board proposal in early January to address debt by raising A$550 million from shareholders while splitting the company in two must have contributed to dissatisfaction, it does not fully explain the sudden share price collapse. No, what really hit out of left field in mid January - vital information unknown previously to the market - was that large shareholders, including Directors, were facing margin calls on shares effectively purchased on deposit, margin calls they were unable to meet. This news appears to have unnerved other substantial holders who quickly joined a rush for the exits. As every highly leveraged property owner knows, a modest fall in the market can wipe out ones equity. Margin traders of shares face the same fate but here the financier, or margin lender, usually demands immediate payment to make good any of the finance provider's losses. Failure to meet such demand may result in immediate sale or confiscation of the leveraged security to limit losses, this being the norm rather than the exception. The decline of MFS Limited shares over several months, in line with market sentiment, was obviously sufficient to trigger margin calls. Dumping of huge volumes on the market, including notifiable directors' holdings, did the rest. CEO Michael King's conference call on 18 January, following two days of trading halt, was intended to present the separation and cash raising issues but instead oversaw a massive volume of trades, approaching 120 million shares compared to normal volumes between one and five million, and a 69 sale of Stella Group for A$1.3 billion equivalent, effectively values that arm at just over $2 billion, compared to A$2.5 billion evaluated by analysts earlier. Hence total shareholders' funds could take a half billion dollar hit from that one item alone. Nevertheless and even if remaining assets were all to be written down by 50 p.a. interest to debenture holders over the next 20 months. Lessons Unfortunately MFS Pacific Finance is beyond rescue as an operating unit in its original form and its passing is a genuine loss to the New Zealand finance company sector. In addition to offering investors currency diversification, MFS Pacific carried the potential to set a new benchmark of financial support for finance company borrowings through the "Put Option". To date no other parent/subsidiary relationship of companies listed on the New Zealand Debentures Exchange has instigated a similar enforceable guarantee. Perhaps the new "Global Credit Crunch" reality will empower investors to demand just that. In addition, as more intricate trading mechanisms such as margin trading, stock borrowing and short selling evolve, it becomes clear that disclosure of such potentially dangerous practices must become a mandatory requirement imposed by stock exchanges or legislation if markets are to be open and informed. Private investors have quite enough risks to contend with, without the secret avarice of their own company's directors and executives exposing them to even more. But while the mandatory objective may prove an optimistic goal in the short term, ordinary shareholders and fixed interest investors alike can take their own action immediately, wasting no time in sending the "totally unacceptable" message loud and clear to directors and executives where margin trading is concerned.

Trading With Price and Volume

Copyright 2006 Billy Williams On any given major stock exchange, from Wall Street to Bombay or from London to Hong Kong, billions of shares are traded each day that represent trillions of dollars exchanged back and forth. This buying and selling action represents volume, which is the result of the exchange of stock or commodity between both buyer and seller. Volume, then, is the prime mover in the price for a given stock or commodity in a given amount of time. If there is more buying than selling for a ABC stock then what results is the rise in price for that stock. Likewise, if there is more selling then buying in ABC stock then share price is likely to fall in value. This makes the study of volume a valuable indicator to determine if a stock is either in demand or likely to increase in share value in the future. Many aspiring stock traders practice a style of stock trading popularly referred to as “momentum investing” where one attempts to identify stocks that are fluctuating in a given price range for a length of time and are likely to have explosive moves to the upside or downside out of those ranges. The confirmation for those explosive moves are taking long positions at the upper end of that price range or short positions at the lower end of that price range on greater than average volume. Let me offer an example of the importance in volume by stating that volume is literally the fuel for stock values. Like the space shuttle when it is launched into space the majority of fuel is spent to just get it into orbit. This explosive force of energy to propel the space shuttle into space or new heights requires an above average reserve of the fuel but then the space shuttle can then use only a small portion of the remaining fuel reserve to carry out the rest of its mission. Volume is to stocks what rocket fuel is to the space shuttle. A good average is a 150% of its normal volume but I would also stress that its important to become familiar with a given stock’s volume pattern to gain true mastery. Baker Hughes, Inc. (BHI) typically will move in force with just a 20-25% higher volume spike while some of the lesser known small-cap stocks might require 150% or more. The study of price and volume relationships also reveals a condition known as “climatic volume” which to a skilled trader can reveal a complete reversal in a given trend. After a stock has had strong advance or decline is where climatic volume can result (the operative phrase is “after” a strong advance or decline). After an explosive move, usually the result of a volume spike, climatic volume results when traders come into the last stages of that advance of decline and price moves sharply at the last move of its trend. At this point, all the buying and/or selling has resulted and the move has exhausted itself and volume is then considered climatic when it exceeds two times the average daily volume over the last ten days. At these extreme volume levels price often goes almost parabolic or straight up in price without a noticeable pull back. Master traders can spot these “Bump and Run The Top” or “Rising or Declining Wedge” patterns and use these climatic volume spikes to exit their positions and then use them to spot the trend reversal and get in at the beginning of a new trend transition. The study of the relationship between price and volume can give both technical and systemic traders the confirmation that they need to get in on explosive moves and also serve as indicators as to when its time to get out and, possibly, even spot a new trend in transition to exploit profitably. Volume should be considered as the most important precursor to price movement at the disposal of investors or traders and can possibly lead to some huge gains to those who take the time to understand the relationship between price and volume.

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

What is rampant, spreading like wildfire and can kill life as you know it? No, not a deadly virus (but close). Answer: Identity theft. My stepson, Aaron, was a victim of identity theft recently. Someone stole his bank cards, deposited fake checks into his account, then withdrew cash. The deposited fraudulent checks and overdraft charges hurt his credit, and he’s slowly recovering and rebuilding his score. Tips to avoid identity theft: 1. Buy a shredder. Aggressively protect your social security, credit card or bank numbers. 2. Use a lock-in mailbox. This isn’t 100% safe, but it’s much safer than one without a lock. 3. Protect your out-going mail. Get it into the box or the hands of a postal clerk. Heavily trafficked offices often have out-going mail in the entryway. While this may save time, it’s not safe. 4. Keep receipts and compare to your statements when they come once a month. Banks make mistakes all the time. 5. Keep financial documents under lock and key (at the bank or in a home safe). 6. Don’t give out your social security card—ever. 7. Know what’s in your wallet. Do you know how many credit cards are in your wallet? 8. Don’t discuss detailed financial information on a cordless or cell phone. That information can be intercepted. 9. Monitor your credit reports. You can sign up for a monitoring service or do it yourself periodically. Your credit is one of your assets, so protect it. If someone steals your credit card information, get help from these reputable resources— Federal Trade Commission or 877-382-4357 Identity Theft Resource Center at 858-693-7935 Privacy Rights Clearinghouse or 619-298-3396

Monday, January 25, 2010

10 Easy Ways To Organize Your Business Finances

Whether you are a new entrepreneur or a more experienced business owner, taking control of your finances can feel like a part-time job. Some simple tips can help you streamline your time, organize your finances and reduce the stress of business money matters.

1. Keep Your Bills in One Place

When the mail comes, make sure it goes in one place. Misplaced bills can be the cause of unwanted late fees and can damage your credit rating. Whether it's a drawer, a box, or a file, be consistent. Size is also important. If you get a lot of mail, use an area that won't get filled up too quickly.

2. Pay Your Bills on Schedule

Bill paying can be simplified if it's done at scheduled times during the month. Depending on how many bills you receive, you can establish set times each month when none of your bills will be late. If you're paying bills as you receive them, chances are you're spending too much time in front of the checkbook. Although bills may state "Payable Upon Receipt", there's always a grace period. Call the creditor to find out when they need to receive payment before the bill is considered late.

3. Read Your Credit Card Statements

Most people take advantage of low interest credit card offers but never read their statements when paying the bill. Credit cards are notorious for using low interest as bait for new customers then switching to higher rates after a few months. Make a habit of looking at your statement carefully to see what interest rate you are paying each month and if any transaction fees have been applied. If the rate increases or a transaction fee appears on your statement, a simple call to the credit card company can oftentimes be beneficial in resolving the matter. If not, try to switch your money to a more favorable rate.

4. Take Advantage of Automatic Payments

Most banks offer a way to automatically deduct money from your account to pay creditors. In addition, the creditors usually offer a lower interest rate when you sign up for this payment option because they get their money faster and on-time. Consider it as one fewer check to write, envelope to lick and stamp to buy. Just make sure you record the deduction when the automatic payment is scheduled or you run the risk of bouncing other checks.

5. Computerize Your Checkbook

Using a software program is a handy way to organize your finances. Whether it's Quicken(r), Microsoft Money(r) or another package, these easy-to-use programs make bill paying and bank reconciliation a cinch. Computer checks can be ordered almost anywhere and fit right into most printers. Once the checks are printed, all of the information is automatically recorded in your electronic checkbook. Furthermore, many banks have direct downloads into these software packages so when money is deposited or withdrawn, the transaction is entered immediately onto your computer. And, when it comes time to do taxes, it couldn't be easier.

6. Get Overdraft Protection

Most banks have a service where, if you run the risk of bouncing a check, the money will come from another source. For a nominal fee, the bank will link your checking account to either a savings, money market, or credit card so the embarrassment of bouncing a check will be avoided. Call or visit your bank to learn about this convenient feature.

7. Cancel Unused Accounts

Whether it's a credit card or bank account, write a letter requesting that the account is formally closed. Not only will this improve your credit score, it is a useful way to avoid money from being scattered all over the place. Don't let department stores and credit card companies lure you into opening new accounts by offering favorable interest rates and purchase discounts. It's easy for credit to get out of hand by taking advantage of every credit offer that comes your way.

8. Consolidate Your Accounts

If you have several credit card accounts with outstanding balances, try to consolidate them into one. Be careful and check the balance transfer interest rates and one-time fees. Also, make a list of all your open Money Markets, Savings, CDs, IRAs, Mutual Funds, and other accounts to see if any consolidation can be done. Keeping your money in fewer places eliminates all of the guesswork involved and reduces errors.

9. Establish Automatic Savings

Create a link from your checking account into a savings account that will not be touched. This can usually be done through the banks and automatic amounts will be transferred over each month. Most people will not put money into a savings account on a regular basis. They may wait until a large tax refund check arrives or some other event to actually deposit money into savings, retirement or other accounts. If you establish an automatic savings deposit every month, your accounts will begin accumulating money faster than you think.

10. Clean up Your Files

Make sure your paid bills are organized in a filing cabinet. Keep individual files for paid bills. Go through your files at the end of each year and throw out bills and receipts no longer needed for auditing purposes. Contact your local IRS office to see how long records need to be kept for audits. Usually federal tax return audits can be done three years back but cancelled checks may need to be kept for seven. Consult the Internet for auditing and records-keeping procedures for your state or region.

(c) 2005 This article may be freely distributed as long as the signature file and active link are included.

Michael G. Peterson is the Vice President of American Credit Foundation, an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit consumer credit counseling organization that has assisted thousands of individuals and families with their financial situations through seminars, education, counseling services, and, debt management plans. For more information, and free consumer resources visit

Uitvaartverzekering Vergelijken

Op de site van kunt u online de uitvaartverzekering van Dela vergelijken met de uitvaartverzekering van Monuta. Wij bieden voor u beide verzekeringen aan. Deze twee verzekeringsmaatschappijen bieden u een uitvaart verzekering in natura aan alswel een uitvaartverzekering in geld. De premie voor de uitvaartverzekering kunt u maandelijks betalen of in een keer door middel van een koopsom. Een uitvaartverzekering dekt de kosten van een uitvaart. U kunt ervoor kiezen om een vast bedrag te verzekeren. Het nadeel hiervan is dat het verzekerd bedrag nu misschien voldoende is maar over bijvoorbeeld 10 jaar te laag is. Wanneer u kiest voor een uitvaartverzekering in natura dan krijgt u een vast pakket. Ongeacht de kosten. Het nadeel hiervan wel is dat de premie jaarlijks aangepast kan worden naar de hoogte van de kosten die dan van toepassing zijn. Bij een uitvaartverzekering vergelijken moet u dus niet alleen kijken naar de hoogte van de premie maar ook vergelijken op een uitvaartverzekering in natura of in geld. Er ijn meer uitvaartverzekeraars dan alleen Dela of Monuta maar deze twee maatschappijen hebben het voor u wel heel gemakkelijk gemaakt om de verzekerin online af te sluiten. Mocht u nog vragen hebben omtrent een uitvaartverzekering vergelijken neemt u dan contact met ons op. Dit kan via de e-mail, chat of de telefoon. Wij staan u graag te woord omtrent een uitvaartverzekering of een andere verzekering die wij u kunnen bieden. Kinderen tot 18 jaar gratis meeverzekerd! Natuurlijk denkt u niet aan een uitvaartverzekering als uw kind net geboren is. Toch is het verstandig om uw kind zo snel mogelijk te verzekeren. Wanneer u bij ons zelf een verzekering heeft kunnen uw kinderen tot de leeftijd van 18 gratis meeverzekerd worden. Reden des te meer om dit driect te regelen. Want ook de kosten van een uitvaart van een kind kunnen behoorlijk oplopen. Naast het enorme verdriet zit u niet te wachten op de kosten die zo'n uitvaart met zich meebrengt. Regel daarom zo snel mogelijk een uitvaartverzekering voor uw kinderen.

Using Asset Protection

Asset protection is a means for protecting your valuables from future lawsuits and creditor collection attempts. While many people are looking for a solid way to do this, there are many ways in which they can stumble down this wrong mistakenly. For many, the options that are presented to them are not, by any means, going to work. But, there are asset protection opportunities out there that really do work. The goal is to search out the right ones and make proper use of them. Asset protection is something that many should take advantage of no matter what. Asset protection can be done in different ways. One such way is through Family Limited Partnerships and Trusts. These are effective ways of protecting assets. But, the problem arises when many assets are taken out. Then you can be back to where you started with judgment creditors reaching them nonetheless. In other words, your assets are still exposed and can be, therefore, attacked by the lawyers against you. One of the largest mistakes that people make when it comes to asset protection is believing that putting assets in their spouse’s name or the name’s of their children can help them to protect them more so. This, by all means, does not work. This type of asset protection is worthless as sweeps will happen and this information can be easily found. One type of asset protection that does work and works well is offshore asset protection trust or APT. In this case, the assets are protected from lawsuits because they are in oversea territories and therefore untouchable in most cases. Of course, it is important to take note of applicable fraudulent transfer rules as well. Asset protection is offered by many companies. If you are looking for an option that fits your needs the best, make sure that you take the time to sort out the way in which it works and finding the right location for your assets. Asset protection is a fundamentally important aspect that deserves careful protection.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

10 Easy Tips To Save Money On Your Home Heating Bills

With energy costs higher than they have ever been in recent history, it pays to find ways to reduce your home heating costs. I put together some tips that are easy, cost effective and will all add up to reduce your home heating bills by a significant amount! You don’t need to be Bob Villa either. Some take just a minute or two. Even small changes will add up to big savings over the course of this cold winter!

Here are the 10 tips that I have personally used to save on my home heating costs:

1. Head down to the basement and reduce the setting on your hot water thermostat by about 10 degrees. I wouldn’t go below 120-115 degrees. The adjustment dial is typically a red knob towards the bottom of the water tank.

2. While you are downstairs, make sure you have clean filters for your central air-heating unit. A dirty and clogged filter will force your unit to work much harder and stay on longer as it struggles to fresh air through the clogged filter to heat the rest of your house.

3. Check your air ducts for gaps, leaks or disconnects. If you have any disconnects or leaks in your ductwork, your heating bills could be 25% higher than they need to be if these gaps were sealed. If you can’t do this on your own, hire a professional. This expert can also clean your ducts for added efficiency.

4. Adjust your thermostat a few degrees lower. Believe me, this really adds up. It may not seem like much of a difference to you, but you will notice the difference when you get a lower bill each month!

5. While we are on the subject of thermostats, consider replacing yours if it is not programmable. The reason is, you can set the thermostat so the temperature setting in your house is lower at night than during the day, when you are awake. Also, if you are away at work during the day, you can set it for a lower temperature and have it programmed to start heating the house a little bit before you come home. These aren’t too expensive and are easy to install and configure yourself.

6. Insulate your attic. Heat rises, right? If your attic isn’t properly insulated, all of the heat in your house (and your money) goes right through the roof. Literally! This does require some effort on your part, but following through on this tip will save you a ton of money over the years. Measure the square footage of your attic and buy rolls of insulation, greater than R-13 but no higher than R-30. Wear a mask and gloves when working with insulation because it irritates the skin.

7. Find those leaks and cracks! If you were to add up all of the small cracks and holes in your house, they would probably add up to a small window, wide open, letting cold air in and hot air out. Take the time to find gaps in windows, doors, pipes, electrical and phone lines, your dryer duct and much more. Put weather-strips around your doors and windows. You can buy insulation foam that comes in a can with a straw at the top that allows you to fill in tight spaces. It expands to fill even the smallest cracks. Of all of the tasks, this was the most fun finding and filling these gaps all around the house.

8. Close the vents in rooms that you do not use. I have one room in my house that is not currently in use. I shut the hot air ducts and made sure the windows and doors were properly sealed to limit energy leakage. Why waste your money heating up extra square footage of your house that you don’t even use?

9. Open drapes and shades for all of your windows during the day to let the sun heat your home. In the evening, pull them back down for added insulation. It is amazing how much direct sunlight streaming into your home helps to heat things up.

10. Your fireplace can help and hurt your heating costs. If you are not using your fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. When it is closed, inspect the damper and feel if cold air is still leaking in. If you are using your fireplace, make sure the heating in the rest of your house is reduced or turned off.

Taking the time to implement these tips will drastically reduce your home heating bills. You can get most of them done in just one day, but the payoff will last for as long as you live there! I followed through on each one of these tips and the following winter, my bills were about 25% lower, saving about $100 a month! So roll up your sleeves follow these tips and start saving money on your heating costs!

Used Car Buying Tips

Some of these used car buying tips won't be new to you. Often the trick is just to apply what you already know. On the other hand, when it comes to expensive areas of life like buying a car, one new thing learned can save you hundreds of dollars. Try some of the following. 1. Make a low offer. Okay, you knew this one. A trick you may not have used, though, is to make a low offer, and then leave your phone number with the seller. Time has a way of making sellers desperate, especially after you just helped convince them that they are asking too much. 2. Be careful with car price guides. Use the "blue book" etc, but try not to pay more than wholesale. I can't think of many times when people I know have paid more than "bluebook," so these "average" sales prices are doubtful. 3. Talk to people. This is one of the simplest and effective used car buying tips. Just let friends, family and others know you're looking for a car. Quite often people would be happy to avoid the whole process of advertising and showing their car if they could just get rid of it by giving a good deal to a friend. 4. Check out the engine. Have a mechanic look at the car, and tell you what it's likely to need in the next year or so. Then make a list, so the seller can see in writing why you are offering less than he wants. 5. Auctions. See if there is a public auction in your area. If not, maybe you can go with a dealer friend and give him a $100 to buy a car for you. 6. It's around $25 to run vehicle background checks for a month - long enough to find your next car. They'll show the chain of title, accident reports for the car, and even safety and reliability scores for that model. 7. "Ugly" cars. Watch for cars that sit on the lot for months. Dealers will often sell these "ugly ducklings" at a loss just to move them. Again, you may want to leave your phone number with a low offer. 8. Rental company cars. They are sold fairly cheap when they get the new ones in. Buy at bluebook wholesale or less, because they have had many different drivers, so they've more wear than normal. 9. Repos. Credit unions and some small banks do their own selling of repossessed cars. You usually bid on paper, maybe with a $50 deposit, and then get your $50 back if you're not the winning bidder. If they don't sell their own repossessions, ask where they are sold. 10. Consider gas mileage. High mileage may be better, but maybe a car that costs $500 less will use only $400 more gas in the two years you expect to own it. Do the math. Use the tips here the next time you are shopping for a used car. Meanwhile, why not learn a few negotiating strategies. This helps in many areas of life, and is the most important of these used car buying tips.

Will China’s New Five-Year Plan Force U.S. Utilities to Ration Your Electricity?

According to China’s Ministry of Land Resources, China plans to build up “sufficient reserves” of uranium and other minerals, in a new five-year government plan. The ministry said it would be stockpiling strategic reserves of uranium, copper, aluminum and other key minerals because of rising demand for those commodities. The Chinese also wish to avoid supply disruptions by hoarding uranium and other minerals, over the next few years. Until now, you’ve probably taken for granted a steady, reliable source of electricity. A large part of your dependable energy came about because of the nuclear energy generated by the 103 nuclear reactors in 30 states. Without a steady supply of uranium to power those nuclear reactors, the U.S. electrical transmission network suffers a 20 percent loss. China’s new five-year plan to stockpile uranium had better be a Wake-Up Call to U.S. utilities. If they missed the import of China’s announcement, we are all going to be in a heck of lot of trouble before this decade ends. Since June 2004, we have warned of supply disruptions for uranium. David Miller, who has since become President and Chief Operating Officer of Strathmore Minerals, argued at the time, “In my opinion, no one has any extra uranium to sell on the spot market. There’s just not excess inventory that people are unloading in the spot market.” We interviewed Miller again in November 2005, for an article entitled, “China Demand for Uranium, World Growth in Electricity Demand to Drive Uranium Price Higher.” Miller warned us, “China is the future wild card… what they are planning for nuclear is probably the most aggressive program in the world.” Miller added in his explanation, “All the new production is already factored into the future market for uranium. We’re underwater right now without building one more nuclear power plant.” In mid April, during an interview with Sprott Asset Management Market Strategist Kevin Bambrough, we asked him about the Chinese. He answered, “Why shouldn’t they have strategic uranium reserves to supply their nuclear reactors? It makes sense to have a good stockpile of uranium considering the relative cost of nuclear power versus anything else.” And now, the Chinese plan to build up a strategic reserve of uranium for their aggressive nuclear program. In another interview, also published in April, Gene Clark, CEO of TradeTech LLC warned us, “In reality, the U.S. utilities, which tend to wait longer to contract, may be the ones on the losing end because the Chinese and the Indians will contract early. The implication of current group-think is that the Chinese and Indians are not going to be able to find enough uranium for their new plants. But, they are committing for supplies way out into the future. When the U.S. utilities come to the market, they’re going to look around say, ‘Oh blankety- blank, what happened? Where’s the uranium?’ They’ll be the ones that sat around. I think that is what’s going to happen unless things really change in the way contracting is done in the United States.” U.S. utilities have been cautioned, warned and advised that the Chinese demand for uranium could very well create a serious energy crisis for the U.S. grid. Nuclear reactors help supply the baseload generation for the U.S. electrical grid. Nuclear power plants provide stability to the electricity transmission network. About one-fifth of electrical generation is derived from nuclear power. Nuclear plants are running at more than 89 percent capacity. U.S. utilities are fiddling around like Nero, who watched Rome burn, hoping that promises of increased uranium production will stem the dramatic uranium price rise. Severe strains in natural gas supplies, combined with the ongoing uranium supply squeeze, could very well put U.S. consumers on rations for their electricity. Can’t happen, you say? Ask the Brits about how business was conducted in their country, in late 1973 and early 1974, during the Arab oil embargo crisis. Or more recently, California’s rolling brownouts. An electrical energy crisis is in the making, while U.S. utilities are patiently hoping or praying the price of uranium stop climbing. UxC President Jeff Combs wasn’t kidding when he urged U.S. utilities, during our interview, to “support the expansion of (uranium) production in the United States.” And if you don’t let your local utility know about the upcoming electrical energy crisis, then perhaps it will be your lights they may someday be turning out. The irony of ironies: All of those sweet anti-nuclear folks in Vermont, who depend upon nuclear energy for more than 70 percent of their electricity? They’ll be the first to suffer the most, if U.S. utilities don’t respond to China’s five-year plan.

Why Do People Gamble? Reasons to Gambling Popularity

Gambling in its various forms has been popular for centuries in different cultures all over the entire world. Whether through the national lottery, in horse racing tracks or in casino table games, people are wagering their money hoping to win big time. Although the number of people who go home with life changing winnings is much smaller than the number of people who have left their money in the casinos, race tracks or bingo halls, the popularity of the pastime has not been reduced through the years. Despite the low odds of stepping out as winners in most popular forms of gambling is a well known fact, even though gambling suffers from a bad reputation and even when it is illegal, gambling is still one of the most popular pastimes in the world. So, why do people gamble? The most obvious answer would be money, but it will not be a full answer. There are many other reasons that drive people to the nearest gambling facility. Here we will try to offer an answer to this disturbing question. Luck: the irrational believe in luck is engraved in most of us. These unexplained gut feelings that a special day or a certain number is luckier than the others are sends a lot of people to gamble or even gamble on the same numbers over and over again. Social Purposes: have you ever wonder how can a group of people beat the pants off someone in a poker game and remain best buddies? You can see it in bingo halls, casino bars and friendly poker games: many people see gambling as an opportunity to make new friends or spend time with old friends in addition to the chance of earning additional money. Entertainment: many people visit casinos and play their favorite casino games simply because they love it and they are having a great time. In Las Vegas casinos for example, you will meet more recreational gamblers who see gambling as part of their vacation activities than professional gamblers who take gambling as a serious source of income. Excitement: the act of gambling apparently can give you quite an adrenaline rush. Regardless of the money aspect, the anticipation of the outcome of the game while still not knowing whether it would match your bet is what makes all forms of gambling so thrilling and exciting. Relaxation: as opposed to the accelerated adrenaline rush described by many gamblers, many gamblers find the gambling experience relaxing. When you think about it, what can be more relaxing than ending a busy work week in the comfortable casino atmosphere, playing your favorite game and served free drinks? Boredom: whether exciting or relaxing, when the daily lives become an unbearable routine, gambling can serve as a way to escape reality. Money: in addition to all the reasons mentioned above, gambling allegedly provides an opportunity to can earn unbelievable amounts of money within short time and minimum investment. Even if you are aware to the exact mathematical odds of beating each and every gambling game, if you are an optimist by nature, this slightest chance would nevertheless drive you to a casino, a bookie, a lottery terminal or a bingo hall.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

10%/year growth or your money back

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Ways In Which Individuals With Poor Credit Can Obtain Financing

Poor credit is an issue that plagues many individuals. There are a large number of people who find that their credit is less than satisfactory. Those who experience this problem may be concerned that they will be unable to obtain future loans if a poor credit history is a part of their record. This is not the case and there are many different ways in which individuals experiencing bad credit can obtain financing for a variety of different reasons. Special Auto Financing For those individuals who are looking for a poor credit car loan, this is a distinct possibility, as there are lenders who offer special auto financing for those who have poor credit history. Poor credit auto financing is something which individuals looking to buy a new car may be able to receive. The benefit which the lender receives from this relationship is higher interest rates paid by the borrower. However, even though the individual may have to pay a higher interest rate on auto loans than their perfect credit counterparts, they will be able to do so on a monthly basis and have the luxury of transportation while doing so. Poor Credit Home Loans Individuals with poor credit may also be able to obtain home loans. One will find that they may be able to obtain a mortgage with poor credit history from a lender who deals with similar individuals on a daily basis. There are lenders who specialize in home loans for individuals with bad credit and one will find a number of options when looking to obtain a home loan with their credit history in mind. Poor Credit Personal Loan An individual who has a poor credit history yet wishes to obtain a loan may just be able to do so. As with auto financing and mortgage lenders, there are also financial institutions that will issue poor credit personal loans to borrowers. Those individuals who may not have the best credit possible may still be able to obtain loans, poor credit aside. Individuals of all income levels and credit standings need personal loans for a variety of reasons such as children’s college education and home improvements. This is why the financial institutions may offer a type of poor credit personal loan. These loans may have a higher interest rate and stricter terms yet it allows the individual to gain access to money which they may not have had otherwise. Conclusion Poor credit is something that plagues individuals from time to time. It is important to keep in mind that although poor credit can have negative connotations it does not have to paralyze the obtaining of loans. Poor credit is not a problem without solutions and individuals can find ways around their poor credit history if they inquire with lenders who specialize in providing poor credit loans to those individuals who really need them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

9 Places You Can Save Money For Your Family

Most families are spending more and more money every year (and not just because the cost of living rose) while also saving less and less. One reason is that few household managers spend much time reviewing expenses and expenditures to find ways they can save money. However almost every family has places where costs can be cut and pennies can be pinched -- and if those freed up funds are then used to pay down debt and save for the future it could have a dramatic impact on their quality of life.

Food is one big area where many families could be more thrifty. Families spend an average of $2,434 on food away from home, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you (and your spouse and your children) eat lunch out every day of the week then try brown-bagging at least one of those days. If just one of you does it you may save up to $400 a year and if you can double or triple that savings you could finance a family vacation with it.

Another major expense is your home. When was the last time you looked at refinancing? Can you find a lower interest rate? Can you renegotiate to a shorter time frame? Even if you can't change your mortgage payment you may be able to pay a bit extra each month which over time will help pay down your mortgage faster. Also, don't overlook your utilities. There are ways to save in this area as well including updating your insulation and weather stripping, keeping up-to-date with maintenance and cleaning of your furnace and air conditioner or using a programmable thermostat to take advantage of those times when your house is empty or the family is asleep.

Transportation is another major expense for many families. Not only are vehicles expensive to buy but also to maintain and operate especially with gasoline prices at such high levels. Is carpooling an option for any members of the family on at least a part-time basis? Make sure to combine errands and trips to cut down on your travel and save money when buying gasoline by taking advantage of special programs and discounts and remaining vigilant about gas prices. In addition, following a regular maintenance schedule and proper tire inflation can also help you achieve maximum gas mileage for your vehicle.

Choosing your bank wisely can be another way to save money. Make sure the bank you use offers free (or at least low cost) checking as well as electronic bill-paying. Electronic bill-paying and a debit card can cut down on your need to use checks and postage which will save you in the long run as well as help you better manage payments so you will avoid fees, penalties, and higher interest rates.

Cutting your credit card costs can be another major savings. This means making sure you are using the best possible credit card with a low interest rate and low or no annual fee. Shop around until you find your perfect match and don't forget to cancel and cut up those rejected suitors.

Health care is not really an area where you can cut expenses but you can save money by taking advantage of special offers and programs. For example, many employers offer a Flexible Spending Account where you can save money before taxes for out-of-pocket medical expenses for prescription and nonprescription drugs, dental expenses, and eye care.

Tuning up your insurance policies can also help you save money. When did you last compare rates for your home, your vehicles, and yourself? Some other ways to cut costs are to raise your deductible level or using the same company for multiple coverage (your home and vehicles). When you are shopping around make sure to give your current company a shot at keeping you. Sometimes they can offer a better rate too.

Another major expense for many families is the cost of communication including local and long distance phone service, cell phones, cable or satellite television, and Internet access. Review your expenditures and cut out the services you don't need. Can some of these expenses be bundled to save money? Are there better plans for your needs?

When looking to save money it is important to become an aggressive shopper. The Internet makes it possible today to compare prices and product reviews while not spending a lot of time and money driving from store to store. Any big ticket item (and that includes your weekly groceries, cleaning products and health and beauty aids) deserves a closer study.

Over the next, month take time to review your family expenses and expenditures in each of these nine areas. Making a few alterations in your family's spending habits will soon make a difference in the overall household budget. You can raise your family's quality of life by making just a few changes in your monthly budget.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

7 Tips To Increase Your Credit Score

Having a high credit score can mean the difference of thousands of dollars of saved interest expense compared to others with a lower score. For example, if you improve credit score results from the credit bureaus, just a few points that increase your credit score can make huge difference in the interest rate you will pay for a home purchase. It pays to increase your credit score!

The most commonly used credit scores available to lenders are FICO scores, which is a scoring method created by Fair, Isaac & Co...FICO!

These scores are provided to lenders by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Before we get into some tips how to improve credit scores, it pays to review the major areas that determine your FICO score.

1. Payment history on credit and retail store cards, loans and mortgages.
2. Amount that you owe. Credit agencies look at how many accounts have balances and the proportion of that balance to the credit line.
3. How long is your credit history? The longer the better.
4. New credit accounts. Applying for a bunch of credit cards all at once can hurt your score.
5. Different credit types, such as mortgages, retail loans, credit cards and installment loans.
6. How many late payments do you have?

Now, with the playing field laid out, let’s work to boost your credit score! Some methods that boost your credit score take time, months or years, and others areas to improve credit score can be made with a phone call right now! That said, here are the 7 tips to raise your credit score!

7 tips to improve credit scores

1. Pay your bills on time. Your payment history is a major factor (35% of your FICO score) in determining your credit score. If you pay your bills late, or had an account referred to collections, your credit score will take a major hit.

2. Sign up for online banking and make sure your regular recurring bills are paid automatically. This way you will not forget a payment that will wind up reducing your credit score.

3. Increase your credit limit. Another large factor is the amount of your debt in relation to your credit limit. If you have a card with a $10,000 credit limit and your balance is $9,000, this will not help to improve your score. To make the debt/credit limit ratio look better, you can try to call your credit card company and request an increase in your credit limit. Don't use the extra credit though! That defeats the whole purpose and puts you further in debt!

4. Don't apply for many cards at once. This will not improve your credit score because this is a characteristic of high credit risk groups.

5. Don’t ever close an open credit card account. If you pay off a credit card down to a zero balance, leave it open. Remember that a positive factor for your credit score is how much available credit you have at your disposal when compared to your credit balance, in addition to the length of your credit history.

6. Apply for loans within a two-week period. Every time you request a loan and the lender pulls your credit report, it can hurt your score. It is part of the FICO formula that reasons "this person is trying to apply for credit and loans and possibly be trying to live way beyond their means!" If you keep the loan process within a two-week period, all of the credit report lookups are bundled together as one single request!

7. Check for errors on your credit report. Examine your credit report for errors and contact the credit reporting agencies to fix any errors on your credit report.

If you take action and follow these tips, you will be able to give your credit score and immediate boost and gradually increase it even more as time passes. The major keys are to pay your bills on time and reduce your debt amounts when compared to your credit limit. This has a twofold benefit of improving your credit score and reducing your debt.

Copyright © 2005

Wells Fargo 401K Plans Robbed -- Thousands $ Missing

According to a Minnesota TV station, a Wells Fargo 401(k) plan operations manager has been accused of robbing 401k plan accounts. The 401k Operations Manager, who oversaw the 401k daily fund operations, allegedly disbursed money from dormant 401k accounts to fictitious names he created. He then had the checks sent to his own office and deposited the funds into his own account, HOW THE 401K ACCOUNTS WERE ROBBED Point-by-point, this retirement operations manager eluded what should have been Well’s Fargo’s own financial and procedural controls. He: • Requested name changes on dormant 401k accounts, • Provided false Social Security numbers for the fake names, then • Requested the disbursements from the accounts, and finally • Reset the account information back to the original owners. Where were the procedural controls? At each step in this alleged theft, there should have been procedural controls to prevent someone from taking these actions without either an independent review and / or supervisory authorization. A lack of independent review or supervisory oversight was only half the problem. The other half was bundling the record keeping and the assets under the same organization. When a 401k plan’s administration and assets are at the same organization, the risk of insiders bypassing their own procedural controls is always present. “Five Actions You Must Take Now to Protect Your Plan’s Assets.” You put your 401k funds into the hands of those who seem trust worthy. Whether it is greed or some other need that results in the abandonment of their obligations and responsibilities to you, you need to protect yourself and your plan’s assets. Here is what you need to do now-- First: Check with your plan administrator or record keeper to determine whether they are also holding your assets. You may find that your record keeping is being done by one subsidiary and your assets are being held by another subsidiary or division of the same company. Second: Request a “SAS -70” or “SysTrust” audit of the system, procedural and financial controls on your 401k assets. A SAS 70 audit is designed to provide information and assurance to clients and their auditors regarding the organization’s procedural and financial controls. The auditor renders an opinion on whether the controls were suitably designed, placed in operation, and operating effectively. The SAS 70 auditor’s report includes the independent auditor's opinion, a description of the service organization's controls, and the results of the service auditor's procedures. A SysTrust audit is designed to increase the comfort of management, customers, and business partners with systems that support a business or particular activity. In a SysTrust audit, the auditor evaluates and tests whether or not a specific system is reliable when measured against three essential principles: availability, security, and integrity. Third: Require that all Plan information changes be authorized by a Plan Representative or Trustee. Have a standardized form that can be completed by the 401k record keeper. The data changes must then be approved by a plan representative. Often you will find that the plan representative is the one supplying both the data and the approval. Be sure to get a quarterly report of all information changes and the reasons for the changes. Fourth: Require that all plan participant disbursements be first approved and authorized by a plan representative. All plans have standard distribution forms that need to be completed and approved prior to a disbursement. Make sure that these forms are being completed. Have your record keeper complete a form even if it is for an automatic rollover participant, one of those whose balance is between $1,000 and $5,000 and is being moved to an IRA. Just like the information changes, an accounting of all disbursements from the plan should be provided to you on a quarterly basis. Fifth: Transfer your plan to an organization that can meet your financial and procedural control requirements. In the review of your plan’s record keeper, you may find many of the necessary controls and procedures lacking or non existent. If your record keeper can not provide the types of procedures and controls that will let you sleep at night, then it is time for a change. By implementing the five actions now you will have one less furrowed brow. If however, you can’t implement these actions now, you will be lying awake nights with one eye open for your plan’s assets.

What Is Your Bank Charging You? A Guide To Bank Charges

When you're shopping around for a bank account there are a lot of factors to consider. Many people go for up-front incentives, such as money paid into the bank account, vouchers or a gift. However, it is worth looking at bank accounts in more depth to find out what you might be paying for various transactions. Here are some of the transactions that banks might charge you for. Authorised Overdraft An overdraft is like a short term loan. The bank gives you permission to spend more than the funds you have in your account. This amount is usually fixed in consultation with the bank and may be reviewed at stated periods. Some banks have a free authorised overdraft up to a certain limit and charge for any balance over that limit. This is the best way to arrange an overdraft. Unauthorised Overdraft When customers spend more than they have in their accounts without arranging an overdraft limit, this is known as an unauthorised overdraft. Banks penalise customers heavily for this by charging an unauthorised overdraft fee of more than £35 in some cases. The excess spending will also be charged interest at a higher rate than normal. Cheque Services Some banks charge for clearing cheques more quickly than the standard period (this can range from three to seven days depending on the banks involved and the day of the week). There may also be fees for processing cheques in a foreign currency. Taking Money Out Sometimes customers need to set up direct debits, where companies take certain sums from a bank account each month. They may also wish to set up standing orders, where they arrange to pay a certain amount to another bank account or company each month. Some banks charge a setup fee for these services. . It is also worth looking at the daily withdrawal limit on a current account. This can vary widely depending on the bank you choose. Other Bank Charges Banks may also charge for other services such as: 1. setting up a loan facility 2. changing or issuing foreign currency 3. writing cheques that exceed the cleared balance in an account 4. stopping a lost cheque Banks will also charge customers if they have to write to them about an infraction of bank rules, such as exceeding the overdraft limit or defaulting on loan repayments. This means that defaulting customers have to repay the debt as well as the additional charges. Doing some research could save consumers a small fortune in bank charges. In addition for looking for incentives, consumers should look for banks that keep their charges as low as possible. With a bit of digging, it is easy to find banks with: 5. an automatic overdraft limit for which there is no charge 6. free standing orders and direct debits 7. free transfers between banks 8. low unauthorised overdraft fees 9. low charges for other bank transactions Choosing a bank that fits this profile will help with overall financial health.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

7 Tips For Better Online Banking

Banking has never been easier than it is today. Online banking allows you to access your bank at any time of day or night. You can even do this dressed in your underwear if you like. And if you choose to do it that way, it’s just as well there are no lines to wait in for online banks.

1. Probably the first thing to consider with online banking is the convenience. You can access your bank via the Internet at any time of day or night, even while lying in bed if you like.

2. Transaction performed online are generally much cheaper than those done over the counter at a bank branch. You can pay bills, transfer cash, check balances, and much more for much less.

3. Online savings accounts is something worth considering. The interest rates are usually higher and the fees are lower than traditional bricks and mortar bank branches.

4. Your computer has convenient ways to help you remember your login details. But don’t use the “remember my password” option if your computer suggests it. Keep your bank login details very safe and very secret.

5. Most online banks will allow you change your password. This is a very good idea and something you should do regularly. Of course, you must also remember your new password each time it is changed.

6. Logging on to your online bank is easy and very convenient. But after you have completed your business, remember to log out of your online bank again. This is especially important if you access your bank from a library, at work, or in a cyber café.

7. Enjoy your online banking, but beware of any email you receive asking you to verify your bank details by clicking a link. The site may look authentic, but it will probably be a fake. Respectable banks don’t ask anyone to verify details by email.

What Are Structured Settlements ?

When someone has won a structured settlement that has arisen from a lawsuit, they expect they will have to wait a year or more just to receive the money, this is not true. There are many companies available to you that exist to purchase your settlement from you. These types of companies will pay you cash in exchange for the structured settlement or any portions of your periodic settlement that is remaining. What does this mean for you? Well this essentially means that you will receive a lump sum payment from the company who will purchase your structured settlement and have the ability to use it for anything they desire rather it be paying for college, purchasing a new home, paying off debts, investing into the future, anything you desire. Generally, a structured settlement is the result of a lawsuit, this is an agreement made between you and the responsible party that you will accept specified payments from them in a specified period of time, as a result you will release them of any liability named in your lawsuit. There are a variety of payment methods you can choose from such as annual installments that come over several years or in payouts that come every few years. Other types of structured settlements include winnings from situations where the awards are of a substantial amount such as contests or lotteries. Structured settlements are tax-free and used to provide financial security over the long term; however, many people choose to sell their settlement in order to gain the money right away. You have many options when it comes to selling your settlement, you can sell as little or as much as you want and fits your needs and wants. This is an option that many people take advantage of when they have receive a structured settlement of any type. They often like the advantage of having all the monies right away instead of having to wait years and years, which could hinder any plans of purchasing large ticket items such a home. Sometimes the payments will not be large enough to make any sort of significant investment without the need of saving for several years. This is where selling your structured settlement to a reputable company that has a high track record and solid integrity will do some good.

What is Interest?

Unless you have a degree in finance, you probably don't know all that you need to know in order to be an informed, responsible credit card user. Now you don't need to be a finance expert to comprehend the basics covered in this article, but after reading it, you might feel like one the next time the subject comes up with your co-workers, friends, or family. What is Interest? If you borrow $5,000 from your grandma and promise to pay her back in six months, you might return $5,000 to her a year later. Grandma would probably be happy with that because she loves you. But if you wanted to borrow $5,000 from a bank, you know you would not get off the hook nearly as easily. The bank would almost definitely expect regular monthly payments, and would absolutely expect to be compensated in the form of interest. But compensated for what? So long as you pay back the money, why should the bank deserve any extra compensation? Interest is first and foremost, compensation for what is known as "default risk." When you borrow money from the bank, there is a chance you won't pay it back. There's an even greater chance that you won't pay it back in full, or that the bank will spend time and money bugging you about late payments. If not for interest, it would only take one missed payment by one borrower for the bank to lose money. Therefore, the bank must charge interest in order to offset deadbeat debtors and make a little (or not so little) profit for itself. Otherwise, why be in business? Secondly, interest is charged on loans because the use of money is "mutually exclusive." If the bank has only $5,000 in its vault, it can't lend $5,000 to you and to your sister. (Actually it can, but how banks are able to do this is well beyond the scope of this article). Imagine your friend wanted to borrow $50 from you, but if you lent the money to him, you wouldn't be able to take your girlfriend out to a fancy dinner. How much "compensation" would make lending him the money worth it to you? How much would you have to add in to cover his "default risk?" A third reason that interest must be charged is inflation. If you borrowed $5,000 in 1966 and paid it back in full 40 years later, much of the value of the money would have evaporated. In order to replace the buying power that $5,000 had in 1966, you'd have to come up with more than $31,000 in 2006 dollars. Inflation is a constant fact of life in America (and around the world), so at the very least, interest must offset it. In recent times, inflation in the US has been hovering around 3 percent per year. How Do Credit Card Companies Determine Interest Rates? Credit card companies exist to make money, and they do this by charging interest and fees. In order to attract the most business possible, they offer different interest rates and fee schedules to different people. In business lingo, this is called "price discrimination," but don't bother contacting your lawyer - this form of discrimination is perfectly legal (if a bit unfair at times). Credit card companies consider your default risk, the cost of lending (taking into account the mutual exclusivity of money use), and inflation expectations in determining the interest rate you will pay. Obviously, only default risk is unique to you, and it is determined by your credit history. The better your credit, the lower the interest rate you'll be offered. Stay safe. Sincerely, James

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

7 Quick Cash Fixes To Recover From A Money Emergency

When you are desperate to raise emergency funds, it usually doesn’t take very long for you to realize who really cares about you, who is truly a friend ... be they family or not.

Here are a few emergency budgeting tips:

Budgeting Tip #1: The first thing you want to do is prioritize to get back on track very quickly. If that means letting your credit card bill go for a bit, so be it. As soon as you realize that you have a money emergency, contact your credit card issuers and request reduced interest rates and payments. Not only one, both!

Budgeting Tip #2: For your car payment, call the creditor and request a payment extension. Perhaps you hate payment extensions, because they require a fee and you still have to make the payment at the end of the contract. In this case, a payment extension can allow a little breathing room to help you recover during your money emergency. Expect that you will likely have to pay a fee (usually about ¼ - 1/3 the car payment amount) for the extension. Freeing up the money you need today is your first and only goal at this point.

Budgeting Tip #3: Check to see if your mortgage holder will allow an extension for a nominal fee. Do this today!

Budgeting Tip #4: Another quick fix, is to host an on the spot yard sale. You don’t have too much time for planning, so do a quick survey of your personal belongings. Come up with clothes that no longer fit, but that are in good condition, knick-knacks, dishes, and books as well as stuff you bought but no longer use. Throw it all together, quickly. Put some notices up the same day at laundry mats and grocery stores around town, and remember to place a sign at the end of your driveway. You can make a quick $300 this way with very little time and effort.

Budgeting Tip #5: If you have a larger item to sell, call into the local radio stations to see if they have a “call in swap show” on the weekends. This is a very popular way to quickly convert gently used and more expensive items to fast cash.

Budgeting Tip #6: Another quick option is with utility and telephone bills. If you aren’t already on a budget plan, ask that the current bill (plus any previous balance you owe) be set up for a budget plan. Expect to pay a down payment (usually ¼ of the bill) and that all future bills (while on the back payment budget plan) must be kept current. The nice thing about it ... it’s usually interest free, and can give you some much-needed breathing space for a month. You must be sure though that you maintain the regular utility payments AND the budget payments in the coming month.

Budgeting Tip #7: Check with your family church regarding emergency help. Local churches can be one of the best places to find out what’s available in the community to help those in need, or in times of emergency. Check with your local church, first.

Getting Fast Cash through Borrowing

If you are absolutely, positively, in a bind, a real cash emergency, and you have exhausted all of the above, then consider borrowing. First, ask your family, then your local bank.

As a last resort, you may want to consider what’s known as a “Payday Loan.” These types of borrowing stores can be useful when all else fails.